Friday, September 16, 2011

Hospital Sued For Intentionally Exposing Black Kids to Lead Poisoning

A class action lawsuit was filed Thursday against Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, accusing it of knowingly exposing poor, black children as young as 1 year old to lead poisoning in the 1990s as part of a study exploring the hazards of lead paint. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that more than 100 children were endangered by high levels of lead dust in their homes despite assurances from the Kennedy Krieger Institute that the houses were "lead safe" during the two-year study.
According to court papers filed Thursday in Baltimore City Circuit Court, the purpose of the study was to determine the effectiveness of varying degrees of lead paint abatement, but the lawsuit claims participating families were not informed about that nor were they advised that the children would not receive any treatment. The legal action states Kennedy Krieger used as many as 100 children as "guinea pigs" and that the institute enticed them to live in lead-tainted housing to assess the success of lead paint or lead dust abatement measures. The lawsuit also alleges a racial bias, stating that Kennedy Krieger only selected low income households and minorities for its study. In response, Dr. Gary Goldstein, president and CEO of Kennedy Krieger, said in a written statement, "Research was conducted in the best interest of all of the children enrolled." The studies' findings indicated overall that blood levels of most children residing in study homes stayed constant or went down, though, in a few cases, the levels rose. Twenty years ago, 95 percent of low income housing in Baltimore City was filled with lead, and 20 percent of city children suffered from lead poisoning -- the highest rate in the country at the time. There were no state, local or federal laws regulating housing and lead abatement. Kennedy Krieger officials said those involved in the study moved as many as 100 families from housing where there were high levels of lead to homes with much lower levels. The study determined that landlords and building owners could make specific improvements to their properties to reduce lead. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development replicated the study in 13 other cities with similar findings. "We have great concern for the families affected by the scourge of lead poisoning and stepped in to help them in their time of need," Goldstein said in a statement. "The lawyers have wrongly placed blame on our institute. We are confident this will come to light when the facts are presented." The Kennedy Krieger study was the basis for a 1996 state law that some have credited to contributing to a 93 percent drop in lead poisonings in Baltimore City. The study was funded and sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and HUD. The Baltimore City Department of Housing helped to relocate some of the study participants. Johns Hopkins University of School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Hospital reviewed and approved the study. No dollar amount is spelled out in the lawsuit and a court date has not been scheduled.
source: WBAL
The families are suing the hospital for negligence, fraud, battery and violating the state's consumer protection act. It seeks damages, interest and unspecified attorney fees. In another report, a hospital spokesperson is quoted as saying the "study wouldn't have taken place if it wasn't in the best interest of the children." This case will probably be settled before it goes to trial, like the ones files in 2001 by several families who sued the hospital after a court found the researchers failed to warn families that their children faced a health risk if they continued to live in the homes. The court also found that the researchers did not inform the families of the youngsters' elevated blood-lead levels in a timely manner.
Share this post
  • Share to Facebook
  • Share to Twitter
  • Share to Google+
  • Share to Stumble Upon
  • Share to Evernote
  • Share to Blogger
  • Share to Email
  • Share to Yahoo Messenger
  • More...


Post a Comment